Monday night at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies welcomed back the guy Roy Halladay referred to as the Derek Jeter of the National League. Chase Utley, the unofficial captain of the Phillies, was back in the starting lineup for the first time since Game 6 of the NLCS last October against the San Francisco Giants.
Utley went 0-for-5 in his 2011 debut. He had been out of action for three months while battling right knee tendinitis.
"It was a lot of hard work over the past few months to get to this point," Utley said. "I'm pretty satisfied with where we were at. Obviously, I would have liked to be back earlier, but it is what it is. I'm just happy to be out there."
Before arriving in Philadelphia on Sunday, Utley spent 16 days rehabbing at the Phillies' spring training facilities in Clearwater, Fla. He played in nine games for Class A Clearwater but never played in more than four games straight. The Phillies plan to monitor him initially -- they don't want the knee injury to flare up again.
"Those are things we're going to monitor at the beginning, for sure," Utley said. "(Manager) Charlie (Manuel) and I will talk on a daily basis and see where we're at every single day. But I definitely want to be out there."
Utley played eight innings on Monday night. He was replaced by Wilson Valdez at second base in the top of the ninth inning.
"It'll be day-to-day more than anything else," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "But I think he's going to play a little more than people think. I think in this stage he'd be playing a couple of days in a row, then maybe a day off. A lot of it depends on how he feels and what Charlie thinks is right and what Chase thinks is right. I doubt he'd be playing five out of six games or seven out of eight games."
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